Poster for Romeo & Juliet by Worcester Repertory Company

Romeo & Juliet – Worcester Repertory Company
@ Swan Theatre, Worcester 4th October 2023

Our evening of cultural entertainment was hosted at the impressive Swan Theatre; ironically, Shakespeare’s early plays were performed in a Southwark theatre also called…the Swan. The Worcester Repertory Company have thought of everything! Romeo & Juliet was written in the late 16th Century, however, the story of love unwilling to run true has been in existence even before the Rolling Stones formed.

This reimagining of Romeo & Juliet was set against the back drop of the “Love and Peace” era of the 60s. The soundscape captured this period and the music of the Beatles and the Stones – their rivalry perpetuated by the media – reflected the enmity of the Montagues and the Capulets. No detail was left to chance…

The Company’s mainly youthful ensemble carried the performance on the night. That’s not to say the more experienced thespians did not help steer the evening’s show. I must highlight the Friar whose presence had a near religious impact on proceedings. The Nurse, in her nurturing role, earned the laughs and the respect of those in attendance. The determination of the youthful characters Romeo and Juliet to metaphorically “shoot an arrow through the hearts” of their audience was well aimed.

The minimalist set aided the performance and helped remind the audience of the details. The play is about the characters, the storyline and the language. Obviously, we are in awe of tonight’s actors and their ability to remember their lines. Noticeably, not one actor offered up a verbal typo or “stubbed a toe” over their lines. Commendable. As for me, the ability to remember lines and quotes is elusive…“I am dressed in borrowed robes!”

The colourful dresses, contemporary attire and modern suits on the stage gave a nod to the past and a knowing wink to the present. Moreover, Romeo and Juliet will always inspire an insistence on being staged as an historical masterpiece or a modern reinvention. The story is as colourful as Jagger and Faithfull’s affair, as contemporary as politician’s attempting to poison the electorate with their words and as modern as the next big thing!

The big thing for me was the exuberance of the cast. For these young people to be able to walk out in front of the fourth wall and to have the opportunity to perform in a venue of this calibre…well, you would not be able to bid for this experience on ebay. I have attended enough school performances to know at times the show is not about the audience but about the performers and the investment in their futures. For their love of drama knows no boundaries.

By: The Swilgate Scuttler

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